The weather gods smiled at us this weekend (and last). We returned home from Myrtle Beach just in time for Hurricane Idalia to come through that area (smile #1). Then, this weekend was sunny with highs in the mid-80s and mornings in the 60s (smile #2). It was perfect for morning walks with the dogs and our first NASCAR experience.

When we’ve talked about NASCAR races in the past, we decided staying at the campground at the track would be much too stressful for Corona. So when we first camped at Lee State Park last year, we thought it would be the perfect way to see a race and not upset Corona. It’s only 20 miles from Darlington, but it’s a quiet campground in the woods, with large sites, in the middle of a state park.

Where We Stayed

Lee State Park
Lamar, SC
September 1 – 4, 2023
Site 4

I’m going to take a minute to brag about Jesse’s skills. This was not a great angle, but with a little radio guidance from me about how close he was to trees and such, Jesse maneuvered the RV into site 4 with little trouble. If you’re not comfortable backing into tricky sites, don’t book this one. It’s a nice site, but it seems to be angled the wrong way for the approach you’re given.

The site was unpaved, mostly packed sand and gravel. They do have sites with full hookups, but ours had water and electric (no sewer). There was plenty of shade. Corona approved because she could dig holes under the picnic table.

What We Did

Our First NASCAR Races

I don’t think I’m going to become a crazy NASCAR fan, but I’m glad we went. I’ve seen pieces of races on television, but it was a completely different experience to see one (well, two) in person. You can feel the rumble in your chest when the cars zoom past. You can see them bunch up to within a few inches of the car in front of them when they start the race. It’s also pretty cool to watch the pit crews do their thing so quickly!

A note about seating…
Saturday was the Sport Clips VFW Help a Hero 200, and Sunday was the Cook Out Southern 500. We did not have the same seats for both days, which turned out to be a good thing, as it gave us a different perspective. On Saturday we sat toward the front of Section O, which is in the second tier of sections. Sunday we were in the front row of Section M, which is in the first tier. (Yes, we were in the first possible row that day.) Those seats were too close for me. Saturday’s seats were further away, but because they were higher, you had a much better view of the far side of the track. I included a short video from each night to give you an idea of what the view is like from those sections.

The first night; the view from further seats
The second night; the view from closer seats

If we ever go to another race, I think the front of that second level of sections might be the way to go. We were close to the start/finish line both nights, so we got to see all the cars bunch up together whenever the race restarted after a caution. All of the crashes seemed to happen around turn 4, so it might be interesting to try seats closer to that if we ever go to another race.

Other Adventures

When we weren’t at the track, we were walking the dogs (of course). For the most part, we stuck close to the campground, but we also made the short walk to the visitor center (0.3 mi). The park has several artesian wells, and two were within walking distance (0.6 mi from the campground). There is a parking lot at the visitor center if you don’t want to walk. There’s also a playground and restrooms.

Max and Corona with one of the artesian wells near the visitor center
South Carolina Travel Tip

If you ever visit a SC state park, be sure to stop at the visitor center. SC offers state park guides, and they’re really neat! There’s even a spot on each park’s page for a stamp, so the guide doubles as a SC state parks passport.

One morning, we took a drive toward the Lynches River. We tried walking there the day before but were swarmed by some unknown bugs (despite having applied bug spray), so we tried driving today. The road is a loop and eventually comes right back to the campground, but it is unpaved the whole way. We were fine in the truck, but I wouldn’t try it in a sedan. (It turns out to be a good thing we drove because the loop is about 4.5 miles. I don’t think Max can go that far in one walk anymore.)

All I expected was a scenic drive, but there were several cool things to see. We passed the Lynches River, the park’s stables and outdoor riding ring, a group camping area, and two artesian wells.

I looked at Google Maps and realized that, while you can see the location of the loop, if you haven’t been there, it’s almost impossible to tell what is where. So here is a map with the approximate locations of everything we saw. On the map, the pink indicates paved roads. The rest is unpaved.

  1. Group (tent) camping and artesian well
  2. Stables and outdoor riding ring
  3. Campground
  4. Visitor center
  5. Artesian well
Riding arena (#2 on the above map)
Artesian well (#1 on the above map)
Group camping area (#1 on the above map)


There’s a certain type of spider that I haven’t seen in North Carolina, but I start to notice when we travel south. They’re definitely in Florida, and apparently, they’re in Lee State Park as well. They (and their webs) are large and very impressive.

The dorsal side of a spider in a web
The ventral side of a spider in a web

Thanks to an insect group I belong to on Facebook, I now have a name for this spider. They are a native species called golden silk spiders (Trichonephila clavipes). While they are large and quite intimidating if you’re not a fan of spiders, I’ve been told they are gentle giants and only bite if held/pinched. Even if they do bite, the bite is said to be much less severe than a bee sting. So if you happen to walk into one of these webs while hiking, try not to panic!

I saw two other kinds of spider this weekend. I don’t have species names for these, but they were beautiful, so I’m including their photos anyway.

Can you spot the spider tucked between the leaves?

All in all, Lee State Park checks a lot of boxes, whether you’re a NASCAR fan or not.

Happy travels!

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